Sindi's story: Caring, university and the Cabinet Office
At the age of seven, my family and I migrated to the UK from Albania. It was an extremely unsettling and stressful time as we could not speak English and had not established a support network. I recall constantly moving, which hindered my ability to flourish as a child.
My mum’s life experiences prior to moving to the UK, and the experience of moving to a novel environment, took its toll on her. She developed depression and suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. She would be in and out of hospital and when home, she would be bed bound.
Without knowing it, I began to care for her and was a young carer from the age of seven. Being the eldest of two children, all responsibility fell on me.
My situation failed to improve and my caring responsibilities continued, further deepened and remained unnoticed. As a young carer, I was confronted with an array of unpleasant experiences which any child should not have to deal with. I had to grow up extremely quickly and soon came to the realisation that I was the backbone to my family and that it was a struggle for them to function without my help.
Determination and persistence
In Albania, a great deal of importance is placed on pursuing higher education and inevitably this was instilled in me from a very young age. Regardless of my mum’s mental state, my mother would always encourage me to do well at school and I worked very hard to do just that that. With the help of family and friends, my brother and I enrolled into an independent Christian school where I completed my GCSEs.
As I hit my teens, my situation had not improved and I was still providing support to all of my family. My dedication to do well overrode my adversities and my hard work proved successful as I was always the highest achiever in my class. I completed my GCSEs and attained good grades. I was keen to get the best education that I could. At sixth-form, I went on to complete my A-levels and soon enough, I applied to study psychology at Brunel University.
I went on to be accepted at university but due to my caring responsibilities, I was unable to move away from home. For the first two years I was commuting five hours per day to attend lectures and use the resources at university.
During my time at university, I came to the realisation that I wanted to work in government and pursue a career in the civil service. I was also active in seeking work experience opportunities so I found myself working with various MPs to shape legislation. I lobbied the government and continually fought for the rights of young carers. I met many influential people along the way and attended various prestigious events.
'My time at The Children’s Society has been invaluable'
In 2010, my parents separated and, to my relief, my mum’s health began to improve. I then moved out of the family home to concentrate on my studies. In 2012 I graduated university with a 2.1 in psychology. Then I began to look for further opportunities where I could acquire new skills. I came across the internship programme at The Children’s Society, working as a policy and media Intern. I was attracted to working extensively on the Young Carers in Focus (YCiF) project. It is funded by the Big Lottery and is an exciting opportunity for young carers to communicate, share stories and raise awareness about the things that matter most to them.
So far, the internship has been extremely beneficial for my future career prospects. I have been able to learn a great deal about policies relating to young people, how the media team works and how they collaborate. I have also had the opportunity to meet other young carers and see how the YCiF project helps them.
To date, my time at The Children’s Society has been invaluable. Since starting my internship, I have sought out employment opportunities and have recently found out that I have been successful in getting a job at the Cabinet Office! I have no doubt that the experience and knowledge I have accumulated whilst at The Children’s Society has been integral to my success in getting the job. I will be able to use such experience and knowledge to take forward to my new post.
I have never been someone to take the time to accept my accomplishments. Instead, I would forever underestimate my abilities. However, retrospectively, I can proudly say that my story has been a success story despite the adversities I faced as a young carer.
My mother instilled in me a strong work ethic and over the years I have developed a drive for success. The afflictions of life have not hindered my performance, if anything, they have taught me to be more tenacious, to make the most out of every opportunity that comes my way and to appreciate everything I have!
- Sindi Selmani
Young Carers in Focus
You can find stories and videos by young carers on our Young Carers in Focus project's website. The project enables young carers across the UK to share their experiences using a safe social networking site. If you know a young carer - or are one - who is not already involved, please visit the YCiF website.